When Monique Rana McFadden's '80s model agent told the then-size 10/12 eighteen year old that she was a 'big fat boonga,' she inadvertently sent Monique down a spiral of self-loathing and disordered eating.
Fast forward to today and Monique is the extremely fit, healthy owner of BodyTech gyms – widely considered to be among the best gyms in Auckland – and mother to two teenage girls. She says, “My early years as a model may have taken me down the road of “unhealthy choices,” but the journey ultimately lead me to an unwavering commitment to being truly healthy in all areas of my life: physically, emotionally and spiritually.”
Monique continues “My passion today is helping teenage girls, women and men with self esteem issues and eating disorders – by helping them understand the truths of eating balanced nutritious meals, strength training and self acceptance – so they can reach their full potential.”
Monique and BodyTech assist “A Girl Called Hope," a non–profit organisation working with young women who face life–controlling issues, as part of BodyTech’s mission to give back to the community.
FashioNZ asked Monique to share her thoughts on fashion, beauty and style.
FNZ: Describe your style
Monique: I've become more relaxed and comfortable in my own skin, finally! I love to dress up when we go out. My style reflects the mood I'm in. To me you can't skimp on classic sunglasses or a great man-style watch – I still wear the Tag watch my hubby bought 10 years ago. I love boots…all types of boots.
FNZ: What do you wear on a work day?
Monique: I’m either in my New Balance workout gear (New Balance sponsors all of our fitness uniforms) or work clothes – from Country Road, Max, Storm. I love Repertoire pants. To me my work clothes are not a representation of me – they’re more an interpretation of a dress code.
FNZ: And on a day off?
Monique: I love wearing street fashion…skinny jeans, a cool tee, Converse and a blazer.
FNZ: And on holiday?
Monique: A bikini (I know they say don't wear a bikini after the age of 25 – ha! Don't buy into those rules). Board shorts are a must, as is a sarong, dresses, and I love sandals.
FNZ: What are your favourite labels?
Monique: I can't wait to go and buy some LuluLemon workout gear. I love the simplicity and cuts of Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, and Calvin Klein (I lived in the United States for many years).
Locally, I love wearing TK for evenings out. and I also found a great wrap dress from Annah Stretton which is so versatile. Moochi and Storm are two other favourites, especially during the summer – I love the light fabrics and cut. You can't beat Max or Portmans for basics, especially for work.
FNZ: What is your shopping style: dash and grab, or lingering pass-time?
Monique: Dash and grab, unless I'm buying for others and I can take my time. I love buying gifts.
FNZ: What makes you feel beautiful?
Monique: Since the skin is the largest living organ of the body, to me it’s one of the most important thing to nourish in order to feel beautiful. Water, water, water – we must sip 3 litres each day…not gulp, but sip. And never leave home without SPF 20 minimum every day, whether you're indoors or outdoors.
To me beauty starts from within. From the thoughts we think about ourselves to the foods we eat. Our inner body must be congruent with our physical shell to be truly beautiful. If you can smile, therefore you are beautiful.
FNZ: If you are feeling unattractive, what do you do to combat it?
Monique: If I am able, I get outdoors with my dog, walking on the beach. Nothing makes me come alive more than being in nature.
FNZ: How do you combat a 'bad hair day'?
Monique: A baseball cap can do wonders for a bad hair day!
FNZ: Who is your beauty therapist?
Monique: I don’t currently make regular visits to a beauty therapist. I do however get a light peel, three times a year. I am a true believer in Environ skin care and have started using Osmosis skin care. However, the best skin-care in the world will not do much if your diet is high in processed foods, high in alcohol, or low in water. Take care of the inner self with proper healthy nutrition, water and thoughts.
I do invest in a deep tissue massage twice a month- after my workouts my body needs it!
FNZ: Comfort first, or style?
Monique: Comfortably stylish first around home..but when I need to look great – definitely style!
FNZ: How has your style changed over the years?
Monique: Early on, in my modeling years, I wore the typical model uniform, jeans, shirt and boots. Not a lot has changed because I still love those – and boots, boots, boots. But I have become more comfortable in my own skin.
FNZ: What lessons about good dressing, beauty and hair are you passing down to your daughters?
Monique: Look after your skin, teeth and gums. Sunblock, water, fresh fruit and veggies. Move your body each day. Laugh out loud, sing. Affirm your body out loud. To buy only a few pieces each season that are fads, but invest in good quality staples for the wardrobe, like shoes, jeans, shirts. To dress for themselves and no-one else…
…It's good to have your own individual style, unless of course you want to be a sheep! Dress to your body shape. Both of my daughters have beautiful bodies. One is 5'10”, the other 5’ 6” .But different shapes. Is one better than the other – NO! There is one thing I made sure of, I did not want them to travel down the self destructive path I took with my body image. I've always empowered them both to love their bodies…it's important as mothers they hear us affirm our own bodies, as this allows them to do the same.
FNZ: How does spirituality and/or goodness, fit into being stylish?
Monique: It doesn't. That's the problem – a lot of people see being "spiritual” as a fad/style – it's the latest cool thing! It's not..it's a way of life. It's not to be worn on your sleeve to shout ‘look at me!’, but should show from the inside out. Actions speak louder than words. I don't think Jesus was trying to be stylish ..he just was and is.
You can follow Monique on Twitter!
– As told to Julie Roulston